Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Not losing steam

The outrage express, that is. Continuing the pay-raise-complaint coverage, today we have:
  • A second piece by Will Bunch, this time profiling Operation Clean Sweep, which wants to replace everybody statewide who voted for this legislation (via primary challenges), as well as reviewing the other ongoing fallout.
    One remarkable aspect of the opposition to the pay hike is that - unlike most political efforts nowadays - this one cuts clear across the great liberal-conservative divide. Critics on the right say the raise is another example of runaway big government, while on the left they note the money - some $23 million - could have restored some cuts in social programs.
    Pesky citizen groups!

  • Another rather pointed Signe cartoon implying that legislators are going to get burned by this one.

  • Neighborhood Networks now has its petition drive up and running NN logo(to delay the start of the pay-raise and tie it to a bump in the minimum wage), with an official launch event planned for downtown tomorrow. Anybody who wants to circulate and return petitions is encouraged to do so, and neighborhood groups will be trying to coordinate systematic coverage of their regions as well. More volunteer effort always welcomed in all parts of the Philadelphia area.
Update: another Editorial at the Pittsburgh end of things calls on legislators to have an open debate on their raises and then vote again. (via Edico)

Update 2: PhillyFuture has a double-header, with a rant about the whole state of affairs and a list of those promoted and demoted in the recent PA House whip-cracking.


Blogger Dumplingeater said...

It is interesting that although I'm a member of Neighborhood Networks, I never got any notification about the petition (I heard about it from another member at the NN Germantown group meeting), or the rally (until your post).

The recent publicity that NN has received on WHYY as a result of the petition drive leaves me feeling conflicted. The publicity is great, and rallying support behind raising the minimum wage is hugely important, but I don't particularly like the tie-in between the minimum wage issue and the legislative pay raises. Although I'm not in favor of the pay raises, and was disgusted with the way in which they were legislated, I have also felt that Mark Cohen's comments at (this blog?) and over at Young Philly Politics at least present a cogent justification of the raise itself.

To me, the tie-in has a tinge of rabble-rousing: I think it can be a slippery slope tactic to attack the value of government officials. You know, be careful who you climb into bed with. In some ways it's nice to cut across liberal/conservative lines, but does NN really want to be aligned with those who use the attacks against "big government" to move the country to the right? What if the fallout from a tactic like this is to reduce support for Rep. Cohen, who is a very important ally of progressives, and who feels his pay raise was justified?

Would be curious to hear a response from someone in-the-know such as yourself.

8:20 PM  
Blogger Dumplingeater said...

I should add that it isn't lost on me that the petition seems to be focused on DELAYING the pay raise until it is tied in to the minimum wage fight, not necessarily to fight against it. I suppose that intentional distinction might be reflective of the issues I raised? The publicity I heard on the radio did seem somewhat controlled to make that distinction clear -- but I'm not sure it really came across. And especially in the current furor over the pay raises, I have to wonder if that fine a distinction will get lost in the overall campaign.

8:49 PM  
Blogger ACM said...

And especially in the current furor over the pay raises, I have to wonder if that fine a distinction will get lost in the overall campaign.

it's possible that the distinction will get lost to some people, but I very much doubt it will be lost on the legislators involved. anybody looking for it can tell from the actual petition demands that we're just looking for fairness and transparency, not to remove their right to use their judgement in making laws. but I'll admit that the prevalence of the outrage contributed to the sense of timeliness of the campaign.

however, I'd dispute the notion that tying the issues is merely rabble-rousing -- I think that in an era of state belt-tightening, people react more poorly to legislators appearing to put their own interests above those of others (e.g., the Medicaid cuts that seemed to be required in the same year). thus, raising wages for the bottom tier of workers is really not only a bone to appearances, but a real gesture in the direction of economic fairness. (heck, you could even argue that higher minimum wages will mean more income tax income, which helps fund our additional state salary burden, although this is the first time I've ever had THAT thought.) I don't think anyone is arguing against "big government," but definitely against government that puts its own interests and those of big donors above the needs and interests of common folk -- asking that (a) they conduct their business in a more open and legal manner (public hearings on legislation, waiting to take the pay raise as constitutionally required) and (b) show some concern for the little guys (raising the minimum wage) is just an attempt to remind them of the difference. that some angry conservatives might sign on helps the height of the petition piles but doesn't direct the agenda of the petition demands.

as for Cohen, I'm sure we will continue to consider him an ally in many regards. if he got a bit of a wake-up call from the streets on this one, then perhaps it will remind him of his own more liberal tendencies and of the different frame in which the public views such matters. neither of those would be bad. I am pointedly not a member of the state organization trying to replace all the pay-hike supporters in the next primary (Operation Clean Sweep), which seems to me like self-foot-shooting, nor did NN choose to take the tack of, say, Philly for Change (? PA for Democracy, anyway; I can't keep all the affiliations straight) in asking that legislators repeal their raise, which won't work and will only make enemies. I think that not only could the legislators consider our requests, but they can understand why we would choose to use the public dismay to raise these good government and economic justice issues right now, however uncomfortable. (I know that Councilman David Cohen, at least, understands this, even though he shares the feeling that the raise was justified.)

so, onward ho.

as for the petition -- am dismayed that you didn't get it, and have passed that message on. however, you may have to check your spamcatcher files -- it was flagged at my office as suspect, perhaps because of the way that the replies were set up (just speculation), and somebody with more automatic trashing could have lost it that way. we're working on an entirely new electronic system that will centralize database, web, mailings, and other stuff so that it's easier to handle and not all over the place, and that may clear up that problem for the next time around. (as for the rally, it evolved into a press conference, so only SC members heard in advance.)

whew! nice to see your voice. :)

10:15 AM  
Blogger Dumplingeater said...

The gist of your response is well-taken. Still, I feel compelled to point out that I didn't say that the tie-in between the minimum wage issue and the pay raises is "merely rabble-rousing." I said that for me, (and perhaps I'm being too pie-in-the-skyish here), it has a tinge of rabble-rousing, and I hope that folks are sensitive to that aspect of the overall context.

By the way, I really like your connection between raising the minimum wage and a potential increase in tax revenue. I have to wonder about the real economics involved there, given that minimum wage folks don't have to pay a lot in taxes -- but even if all of them pay just a tiny bit, in aggregate, it could amount to a sizeable amount. It would be interesting to see some analysis on that aspect of the issue.

6:18 PM  

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